Any mention of the most popular erstwhile ruler of Maharashtra, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, would always remain incomplete without a note about the tremendous faith he had in the goddess Tulja Bhavani. As such, Tulja Bhavani of Tuljapur is considered the state goddess of Maharashtra and the family deity of the royal Bhosale family. Besides Maharashtra, Goddess Bhavani is the deity of many people from different states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Tuljapur is also one of the popular three-and-half ‘Shakti peethas’ of Goddess Durga.
Tulja Bhavani’s association with the royal families of many states in India is well-known and even today no important task is undertaken without first seeking her blessings. Navaratri, Dusshera and Kojagiri Pournima are the main festivals associated with this goddess and thousands come to Tuljapur on such occasions. This famous temple is located in Tuljapur taluka of Osmanabad district and is about 45 kilometers from Solapur. The history of the temple has been mentioned in the ‘Skanda Purana’. It was built in 12th century CE. The image of the goddess is 3 feet high and is made up in a granite stone. The goddess has eight hands holding different attributes in each. She holds the head of the demon Mahishasura in one of her hands. The goddess is also known as Amba.
The temple has two entrances. One is the Raja Shahaji Mahadwar and another is the main gate called Rajmata Jijau. While entering the Sardar Nimbalkar Praveshdwar, you will come across the Markandeya Rishi Temple. To enter the main temple one has to descend several steps. Inside is a Yajna Kund. The main temple is surrounded by other temples such as the Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Aadishakti Matangadevi Temple and Annapoorna Temple. There are two libraries in the vicinity of the temple. At the temple, the ‘pooja’ begins early morning and the divine feeling is further enhanced with the rhythmic sound of the ‘chaughada’. Watching the rituals of ‘abhishek’, ‘dhooparti’ and ‘shejarti’ also makes for a great experience.
According to legends, Tulja Bhavani killed Matang with the help of seven other goddesses viz. Vaaraahi, Kaumari, Indraani, Shaambhavi, Bhrahmi and Vaishnavi. The goddess also killed the demon Mahish. This story is quite popular among her devotees. Besides legends, history also throws light on the importance of this temple because of Afzal Khan destroying the image of Tulja Bhavani to hurt the feelings of the Hindus, especially of Shivaji Maharaj so that he would be provoked for a battle. It was therefore an act of retribution that resulted in the killing of Afzal Khan at Pratapgad.
Distance from Mumbai: 442 kms